Animated film (2004). Sori. Directed by Shinji Aramaki. Written by Haruka Handa, Tsutomo Kamishiro, based on the Manga Appleseed (begun 1985) by Masamune Shirow. 105 minutes. Colour.
This is the second adaptation of this manga, after the cruder, made-for-video Appleseed (1988). Appleseed is set in a future where most of Earth has been reduced to cinders by global conflict, and humanity's best prospects lie in a Utopian floating City-Island called Olympus. The population of this society is half made up of "bioroids", genetically engineered beings (see Genetic Engineering) with controlled emotions and no reproductive ability. A spunky female soldier, Deunan, is rescued from the ground war to join the city's military; and there she is reunited with an old lover Briareos, now a Cyborg encased in a robotic exoskeleton. Soon after, the human-controlled Olympus military launches a coup against the bioroid politicians, but with the help of Deunan and Briareos the rebels are defeated. A plot by Olympus' elder council to sterilize all humanity and lift the bioroid reproductive ban, thus paving the way for a brighter bioroid future, is also foiled, and Deunan speaks of her hope for a world in which both races can live in harmony.
As the synopsis suggest, Appleseed crams in a lot of plot as it tries to reduce a long-running manga into a film. The result is a movie filled with exposition, where almost every speech is setting up a future conflict. As it moves into its second half, the exposition is largely replaced with comically overwrought melodrama: Deunan's huge eyes frequently brim with tears, a Villain is revealed to have murdered her mother, characters die theatrically and then are revived; and all this to a soaring score that overrides any subtlety in the dialogue. Like many other science-fiction stories, Appleseed uses names from multiple mythological traditions, without any sign of understanding what those names represent, making it more pretentious and less logical.
Appleseed's computer-generated animation is frequently breathtaking, especially in the first sequences revealing Olympus itself. The characters move realistically as well, the creators having used motion-capture technology to transpose human movements to an animated film. However there is something over-insistent about Appleseed's complacent visual flourishes.
There is no connection between the Japanese manga and anime Appleseed, and the science-fiction novel Appleseed (2001) by John Clute. [JN]
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